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1/12/2007
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High Five: Meet Brian Behlendorf, CTO Of CollabNet

Brian Behlendorf was one of the lead architects of the Apache Web server project in 1993, which resulted in the Web’s most successful piece of open source code. Behlendorf makes no claim of being a brilliant C programmer--but he does have a proven knack for pulling people together.

CTO of CollabNet, Brian Behlendorf -- Photograph by Masami Adachi

Photograph by Jeffery Newbury

Brian Behlendorf
CTO of CollabNet

Interview by Charles Babcock

1
WORDPLAY
The Apache server isn't named in honor of Geronimo's tribe, even though a headdress feather adorns the Apache Software Foundation's Web site. The half-dozen or so volunteer developers in the original project sent in so many revisions, Behlendorf says, the group called it "a patchy Web server."

2
NO PERSONAL GAIN
Organizers of other open source projects have gone on to found profitable companies based on that work. Behlendorf never did that. Trying to decide who among its many contributors should be in the company and who would be left out would have violated the spirit in which the Apache project was organized. "We wanted to keep the Web open and flat. We didn't want the Web to end up like the desktop. Maybe we were all just naive."

3
WAKE UP!
Now Behlendorf is CTO of CollabNet, a company that produces software for development teams that want to mimic open source practices. Behlendorf thinks using open source-style software is an obvious choice. "If you're a company that hasn't thought about it, you're totally asleep."

4
ON FIRE
Behlendorf loves to take part in the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. Thirty thousand people converge to celebrate life and art, and the festivities are capped by a massive human figure that's set alight. "There's no spectators. To just show up to consume is not cool. Everybody participates."

5
REAL CONNECTIONS
Behlendorf founded a Web site, SFRaves.org, on the San Francisco music scene. When a friend, CNET editor James Kim, didn't participate as expected, site members grew concerned. As would later be revealed, Kim and his family had been stranded in a snowstorm in Oregon, and he died in an attempt to summon help. "A few of our members went up to Oregon to help with the search." The online community, he adds, had functioned "just like a real community."

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